This is the one where you’re sleeping on the helicopter, forced comatose, Medevac-ed from home, or the hospital close to home, to St. Louis where there are better doctors, Mother tells me. This is the one where Mother tells me, Don’t come home, and Will says, Let her be. Her husband is dying. And this is one where I think to tell Mother, But he is my father, as she pushes her children back to their childhood bedrooms, to Batman sheets on race car beds and time out because Dad is sick and you can’t be quiet. I will not say this. This is the one where I can’t sit still. Where I chew Clonazepam like Skittles, Father, and walk around the circles of Washington in circles. There is the apartment building where I had an affair with a man then moved in with his ex-husband. There is the park where the dog I was sitting ate a dime bag of heroine. There is the coffeeshop where I stole toilet paper from the bathroom the summer I couldn’t afford to buy my own at Safeway. This is the one where no one is a hero, not me, not you, Father, sleeping on the helicopter, both of us thinking you would be the one to die last, after Mother, prone to heart attack, after me, prone to accident. This is the one where you are dying first. This is the first one I will write about your dying.
Home Alone for the First Time
The safe in my parent’s closet unlocked.
Four thousand in cash. Receipt
for tickets to Disney World.
One birth certificate for one dead brother.
My social security card.
Uncle Dennis’s rosary.
Hail Mary. 1981 Superbowl ticket
signed by Terry Bradshaw and framed.
My parents marriage certificate
(two months after I am born).
Police photo of my mother beaten
by her ex-husband. And the police report —
The perpetrator, drunk, asserts his wife
deserved it. Thirty-eight hundred in cash.
Our Gospel: Gilson Family Disappearing Act.
About the author:
D. Gilson is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry, 2015); Crush with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014); Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and Catch & Release (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize. He is Assistant Professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and his work has appeared in Threepenny Review, PANK, The Rumpus, and as a notable essay in Best American Essays.